Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Weekend in Italy

As I wrote before, I have been to Rome, not the last weekend but the weekend before. On top of the fact that the French rugby team has won again Italy, I had a very nice time in the Italian capital. The weather was nice but a bit cold, because of an icy wind. As you will see in this post, I had the opportunity to visit one post office and also the philatelic center where I bought some stamps and other philatelic products.

Let me first show you some pictures taken during one of my walk in the streets of Rome. These are pictures of post boxes (The red box seems to be the standard model, I have seen them at various places in Rome. The blue box which seems dedicated to letters to other countries was located just behind the Vatican) and the emblem of “Poste Italiane” located at the front of a post office.

(If you are interested in the other pictures I took in Rome, then click here).

I went to Rom for the rugby game between France and Italy that was a part of the 6 Nations tournamen. Every year this tournament involves England, Scotland, France, Ireland, Wales and Italy. Italy has joined the 6 Nations tournament in 2000 only, which means that this year this was the 10th anniversary of their participation to the competition. At this occasion the Italian post has produced a commemorative postmark that I was able to get just before the rugby game Italy versus France.

For this cancel I chose a stamp issued on the 10th of October 2008 to celebrate the Philatelic Day. The cancel is very nice, with the 0 of the 10 (for the 10th anniversary) having the shape of a rugby ball! I do not know if a similar cancel was available for the two other games that were held in Italy this year (the one against Ireland and the one against Wales). If someone knows, please let me know.

I took opportunity of my visit to the philatelic center to buy some of the recent stamps issued by the Italian post. Here is the one issued on the 12th of February 2009 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin (1809-1882).

I don’t think I need to detail who Charles Darwin was, the 200th anniversary of his birth is celebrated by several postal administrations already (I’m preparing an article about this, by the way). The stamp pictures a portrait of Darwin, and in the background, the title page of the first edition of his work “On the origin of species” published in 1859. The stamp also pictures a rather famous drawing showing the evolution of the human race.

Among the various philatelic products that the Italian post proposes for a stamp issue, I found a rather original one. I would call this a philatelic card. I have never seen such product from any other postal administrations before. This is a card that has the size of a credit card; it contains one copy of the stamp, protected by a plastic film. Here is a scan of the recto (top) and verso (bottom) of the card. In case you wonder, the stamp can not be removed from the card without destroying it. It seems such product is available for each new stamp issue.

More traditional is the Maximum card, with a very nice first day cancel reusing the same design than the stamp.

In 2009, Rome will be the place of a big international philatelic exhibition that will be held from the 21st of October to the 25th. You can learn everything about it on the associated website. This exhibition is the subject of a presentation pack that I also bought. This pack contains the two following stamps issued on the 10th of October 2008.

Both stamps pictures the Mouth of Truth (La Bocca della Verità), a marble sculpture located in the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome. This sculpture is a thought to be the part of a fountain from the 1st century. There is a legend around the sculpture, from which it takes its name. It is said that if one tells a lie with one’s hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it will be bitten off! The sculpture was placed in the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church in the 17th century. If you have seen the movie Roman Holiday you probably remember the sculpture in a with Gregory Peck and Catherine Hepburn.

The presentation pack that I bought also contains the two philatelic cards associated to these stamps.

A first day cover and a maximum card are also included.

Finally here is the cover of the presentation pack, picturing the church Santa Maria in Cosmedin, where is located the Mouth of Truth.

Those stamps are not the only stamps issued by Italy to celebrate the philatelic exhibition. Two other stamps have been issued in 2008, on the 7th of March.

One pictures the Congress palace, where the exhibition will be held, and the other pictures the Coliseum, one of the symbols of Rome.

Still on the same subject, two other stamps have been issued end of last week, on the 27th of March.

The pictures of the last four stamps are coming from the Italian post website.

As you can see, all the four stamps issued so far contains the logo of “Italia 2009” in their design.

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